By Natalia Kononenko, Editor, Living with Christ

I remember the Advent season of four years ago quite vividly still. I was living a sense of “double-expectancy,” as I awaited the birth of my son, while the Christians around me were waiting for Emmanuel to come into their midst.

To appease some of the anxiety that overwhelmed me at the thought of becoming a new mom, I delved heavily into the cleaning mode. I wanted everything to be well organized and squeaky clean for this little one to arrive and feel welcomed and special. I later learned that it’s called the “nesting” instinct, which appears in late pregnancy, where one experiences an overwhelming desire to get one’s home perfectly ready for the new baby.

Advent is a bit like that. We prepare ourselves and our homes for the birth of Christ.

Inevitably, there are lights to put up, cards to mail out, family lunches or dinners to organize, and gifts to buy. The pre-Christmas rush can take a strenuous toll on our time and energy.

But what if we reach out a little bit farther, beyond our most immediate pre-Christmas plans? What if amidst our endless day-to-day tasks we make it our goal to make the world around just a little more hospitable for the day that the Christ child is to be born? What if we reach out to touch the heart of our broader human family?

What if we visit that relative or distant friend who we know could use some company? What if we say a compliment to someone simply to show our gratitude?

What if we slow down to listen to someone who needs encouragement? What if we say a quiet prayer for someone who is struggling? What if…. Our lives are loaded with a great many opportunities.

Small kindnesses can go a long way to spreading peace around us. They may not necessarily take up a lot of our time or energy; on the contrary, these are the things that feed our souls. And perhaps these small kindnesses could be our way of telling Jesus: “this is what I tried to do to create a warmer and more loving world for you to be born into.”

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